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Chapter Twenty: Political Machinations

Molly Weasley looked up from the copy of the Daily Prophet announcing that Petrus Parkinson was considering a bid to replace Cornelius Fudge as Minister of Magic and stared at Albus Dumbledore in disbelief. "Albus--you--"

"We cannot allow Petrus to gain control of the Ministry, or have any influence in the Ministry, Molly," Albus said sadly.

Arthur Weasley put his arm around his wife's shoulders. "We've no choice, love."

"Mum? Dad?" Bill Weasley asked. He and Charlie both looked at their parents, confused and concerned.

"Petrus Parkinson is an evil bastard. He has stayed close to his best friend from his school days all these years--Tom Riddle, better known as Voldemort," Molly swallowed.

"His first wife was Virginia Baines."

"Grandma?" Bill gaped.

"Virginia bore him five children. Four of which he killed--all girls. Virginia managed to get the evidence to blackmail Petrus into a divorce and she and her firstborn, who was then ten, managed to escape him."

"Mum?" Charlie frowned.

"Your grandfather, unfortunately, is very much alive," Molly said quietly. "And still in league with the man he insisted be my godfather ... Tom Riddle. Arthur, your career..."

"We'll manage, Molly. We always have, love," Arthur said firmly. "And those who know us will certainly know better than to begin foolish speculation."

"We'll be fine, mum," Bill said. "The goblins at Gringotts don't give a bloody damn about anyone's family tree so long as they do their job and bring in a profit."

"Language!" Molly scolded automatically.

"I'll have no real trouble at the Dragon Reserve." Charlie shook his head. "Percy's cast his own lot. The twins will be fine. Gin will too, I'm sure. Ron will, if he pulls his head out of his arse. And if he doesn't on his own, Hermione and Harry will do it for him."

"Language!" Molly snapped again.

"They're not little kids, mum. We're all grown, or nearly. Besides, Parkinson was the one that killed Davy and Maggie, mum. I still say I recognize him, no matter that it was dismissed that I couldn't have. I'm not letting the Death Eater that killed my brother and sister end up as a high-up Ministry official. Now, come to find out, he killed four of our Aunts as well." Bill spoke firmly. He'd been nine and Charlie seven, Davy five and Maggie just three, when Molly had allowed them to wait at Fortescue's and have an ice cream under the watchful eye of Mr. Fortescue while she took baby Percy with her and quickly went to the pet store to pick up a potion for Errol. Bill had been the only one that caught sight of the Death Eater whose mask had slipped--the same Death Eater that had cast the Avada Kedavra on Davy and Maggie. It had been one of only three daytime raids during the last war.

"Bill's right, mum."


Molly nodded reluctantly. "Only--only if there is no other way to stop him, Albus."

"Be ready, my dear, because though I shall endeavor to do my best, I am afraid it will come to this."

"We'll be fine, Albus. Not a one of my family have ever backed down from what they had to do or believed was right--even ... even if they were a bit misguided," Arthur said sadly.

"Percy is simply young," Albus offered.

Bill snorted. His brother was a know it all little git. That had nothing to do with age; that, unfortunately, was simply Percy's personality.

"Bill!" Molly scolded.

"I have much to do yet this morning. Be ready by nine?"

Molly swallowed and nodded.

Harry made his way into the staff room, hoping to find Mr. and Mrs. Tonks to see what had gone on that morning. He'd already been up to the Apprentice's tower to shower and change, and then down to the dungeons to check on Remus and Snape. Remus was almost completely healed. His new skin was a bit itchy and his side tugged a bit now and then, but overall he was fine. The Healing Sleep seemed to be working on Snape. His fever was down and the infection seemed less when Harry changed the bandages.

On his way to the staff room from the dungeons, he looked into the house-elf-guarded Great Hall, where the others were still asleep. Even without the blood-loss due to the blood needed for the potion, it was physically and magically draining in the extreme. Harry really didn't expect any of them to rouse 'til at least noon. If they weren't up by then he'd have to wake them. They had to make their books with the remaining potion to have the books to the Ministry by five that evening. They technically had 'til morning but that would be cutting it close. It would be too easy for Fudge to bumble about and say they were over the deadline.

"Good morning--ah ah, no you don't, young man. You're going to sit and eat something before you even look at those!" Andromeda Tonks scolded when Harry reached for the morning papers. "You won't have an appetite once you see them and you need something in you, you're far too skinny, my dear. And that hair, child. If you're going to leave it long, that's fine, but you must learn a few detangling charms."

Mrs. Tonks' fussing was borne with a wry smile as she quickly had his hair detangled and pulled back into a tail at the nape of his neck. He had forgotten his hair was still lengthened. Too many other things to sort through.

"And how was Mr. Karkaroff?" Andromeda asked.

Harry blinked at her. The buzz of the wards seemed--happy. Hogwarts liked Mrs. Tonks. "You've been doing it, haven't you? How I've managed to pick up on things..." He murmured aloud as he glared at the ceiling. Each day that had passed he'd seemed more aware of who was where in the castle and oddly picking up when something was wrong occasionally.

"Harry?" Andromeda Tonks frowned worriedly.

"The castle ... the wards..." He bit his lip. The damned buzz of the wards was now amused and smug. There was no way to explain the castle's influence without sounding like a loon.

Andromeda nodded in understanding. After all, the castle was one of the reasons the Structural Entity laws of 1830 were enacted. Of course, Hogwarts and a couple dozen other more ancient family homes had been grand-fathered out of that.

"Hogwarts likes you," Harry offered lamely.

Andromeda chuckled. "Well, I happen to like Hogwarts as well. Now eat, dear."

Mrs. Tonks had been right. The morning papers were more than enough to make someone lose their appetite.

Fudge's attempt to make the Apprentices brew the Lineage Potion and submit the results was everywhere. That the papers were claiming they had been 'tipped off about secret Ministry manipulations' smacked of Dumbledore. Any legislation banning or demanding the brewing of the potion was illegal--this in the original Ministry Charter of 1208. There were also articles pointing out that Hogwarts was built on what was once, and truthfully still was, Slytherin property. The castle itself technically belonged to the Slytherin trust as well. Rumor had it the Heir of Slytherin was considering closing the school entirely due to interference from the Ministry.

Lawsuits were being levied against the Ministry for violation of Ministry Charter and 'stress and mental anguish' by Roger Bulstrode, Secretary of Magical Beasts and Beings Regulation on behalf of his daughter Milicent, and by Brandon, Duke Morrigan, on behalf of his great-great nephew Blaise Zabini. By Mr. Lovegood on behalf of his daughter, Heir-Regent of the Dyfed family. By Irina Longbottom on behalf of her grandson Neville. By Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and Head of Gryffindor House, and Petunia Dursley, Squib, Acting Head of the Slytherin family, jointly on behalf of Professor McGonagall's cousin and Mrs. Dursley's nephew, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived and Heir of Slytherin. Eiru O'Malley was suing on behalf of her great-grandson Seamus Finnegan. Andromeda Tonks had filed as well on behalf of Draco and Pansy Malfoy.

"Did you know you're suing the Ministry, Mrs. Tonks?" Harry asked. He had had to reread the inclusion of his Aunt Petunia in that list of outraged family members suing the Ministry.

"Mmph." The woman huffed into her tea cup. "Albus so kindly sent an owl that woke me at two this morning with the paperwork to sign to file the suit."

The Wizengamot was convening in a special session at noon that day to debate the matter.

The Quibbler had a special edition out---Ministry Cover Up allowed Voldemort to Gain Power Unchecked! The murders of Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry Employee. An aging Muggle in Little Hangleton, where the Riddle family home was. The murder of Bartemius Crouch Sr. who had once been Minister of Magic. The escape of Bartemius Crouch Jr. from Azkaban, the imprisonment of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody in his own trunk for an entire school year.

One of Fudge's first acts as Minister was to cover up the murder of Rose Annabelle Dursley, Witch, daughter of Vernon Dursley, Muggle, and Petunia Dursley, Squib and Acting Head of the Slytherin Family by Vernon Dursley, Muggle.

Abuse of students by Ministry-Appointed professor Delores Umbridge. Including Dark Arts variants of the Escriba spells. Four students came forward with scars, dozens more with tales of abuse and harassment. Especially students from families known to have spoken out against Fudge or Muggleborn.

Harry shook his head at the newspapers. "Voldemort doesn't have to do a damn thing but sit back and watch us pick ourselves off."

Another paper had a long write up on Petrus Parkinson gaining support to be the next Minister of Magic amongst traditionalists. It seemed he would be running if it was decided a special election needed held due to lack of confidence in Fudge.


"I'm beginning to dread the sight of you, Fawkes," Harry said, tiredly stroking the phoenix's red feathers. "I like you, boy, but you always bring something from Dumbledore that makes me want to scream."

The phoenix trilled out an amused sound, rubbing it's head against Harry's hand, and held out his leg to which a parcel from Dumbledore was attached. Then the bird disappeared with another *pop*.

Cornelius Fudge sat in his office, shaking with rage, as he read over the morning's papers. "Oh, shut up, Wimbly!" Fudge snapped.

Damn Dumbledore! That man was out to ruin him. That was all there was to it.

Fudge's day only got worse. The Weasley/Parkinson scandal broke wide open well before lunch. Petrus Parkinson, like a fool, tried to flee when Aurors went to question him, his wife unfortunately killed during the attempts to capture Parkinson himself. He put the woman under the Imperious and set her to attacking Aurors. Parkinson was at large, thought to have joined the Dark Lord in hiding. The man could have bluffed his way out of the accusations that he was a Death Eater, there was no proof at all--well no proof that could be used. His estate couldn't be seized because of the public outcry that would be had, especially after the Pansy Parkinson/Draco Malfoy marriage debacle, which had left the Ministry looking poorly.

All Fudge could do was to make sure that Voldemort's goddaughter didn't get custody of her young half-sisters. As much as it galled him, the three young girls were sent to Hogwarts to be placed in the custody of Draco and Pansy Malfoy under the supervision of--Severus Snape and Harry Potter. Mrs. Dursley agreed on behalf of Mr. Potter at Dumbledore's urgings. Dumbledore again. Though Potter was the same age as the Malfoys, he had been named secondary guardian of any Malfoy offspring if something untoward should come to pass; in this case of 'supervised custody' of the three young Parkinson sisters it meant that those named guardian or secondary guardian of the future Malfoy Heirs in the marriage contract were provisional supervisors according to the usual course of wizarding law. It was simply that one did not often come into such circumstances as this, or find someone named guardian as young as Potter.

The Wizengamot decided in favor of those filing on behalf of the Apprentices. As a matter of course during the Apprenticeship any Master Apprentice was likely to brew the Lineage Potion, but it was not the Ministry's place to dictate when an Apprentice was ready to brew such a potion. After all, done improperly or without properly trained supervision it could result in terrible tragedy. Further, the Ministry had no right nor reasonable cause to try to force the turning over of a Lineage Book. This was also clearly stated in the Ministry's original charter in 1208.

Well, there were still a few things that Fudge could do to make Dumbledore's life more difficult.

Starting with the fact that not a one of the Apprentices had a legal heir...

Hermione wasn't sure where the portkey had sent them three days earlier, but their "sanctuary" for the next few weeks was cozy enough. Almost too cozy, as they hardly could avoid being in each other's company constantly. The central part was a huge open room that combined kitchen, dining, sitting room. She and Ginny both had bedrooms and baths off the left of the central part. The boys had the same off to the right.

Having had enough of Wizard's chess, though Ron wanted 'just one more game' after no less than ten games in a row, she excused herself to go lie down and read. The Twins' obnoxious game of exploding snap was wearing on her and Ginny and Dean were so snuggly and cute she wanted to slap them both.

"Read? It's summer holiday," Ron automatically whined.

Hermione rolled her eyes, not bothering to suggest Ron start his summer assignments. It would be a waste of breath. At least he'd finally stopped the "Bloody Heir of Slytherin" rant. She wasn't going to start off the "Hermione, you need to lighten up! It's summer holiday!" whine.

"Fawkes," Hermione gasped as the phoenix appeared in her room with a *pop*. She had to stare at the large trunk the bird brought with him. She took the keys and the letter from Fawkes, but before she could say thank you, the scarlet bird disappeared with another *pop*.

Ms Granger,

Due to new Ministry Mandates issued as of yesterday, all future Hogwarts Staff are required to serve a five year course of study to become certified as teachers. I would like to offer you a place in the teaching-qualification program. It's three years of general study followed by two years of concentration on the subject you would like to be qualified to teach. In your case, this new program would be six years as you would need to spend a year independently studying, covering sixth and seventh year course work to take your NEWTs in June. I urge you to take this oppurtunity. Even if you do not wish to teach eventually, you will have your accreditation and it behooves Hogwarts to have the best and brightest in a position to step in and take up the reins eventually.

I must admit there has been talk of offering you Modified Apprenticeship in the past. I had felt it detrimental in your case to have you curtail yourself to studying only one thing so young. Yours is the sort of mind that chafes at limitations and I do believe you would ultimately have been quite dissatisfied in a Modified Apprenticeship and I prevented all further pursuance of that on behalf of several professors.

"Would have been nice to have made the decision myself," Hermione huffed at the letter, insulted. How dare Dumbledore decide what was best for her, deny her the opportunity to decide what she wanted...

The trunk contains many books you may find helpful in making your decision and some other odds and ends. Nicholas Flamel and his wife left me their belongings with the request that I find good homes for their things--where particular items would be most useful and appreciated. A goodly number of the books within this trunk once belonged to the Flamels; I'm quite certain these books shall have a good home with you.

Enclosed are the requirements, supplies lists, course-study summaries and the contracts for the program.

I await your decision on Sept 1st.

Albus Dumbledore
Headmaster Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Hermione wished she could talk to her parents about this. She'd write them, of course, but it would be a week before she could post a letter off, and a week after that before she got a reply--no, longer than that. They would be leaving before the week was up to visit her great-uncle in Canada who was elderly and not well; they were moving him back to England. It would take up most of August and owling them would be almost impossible. Ginny was so wrapped up in Dean, Hermione wondered if they weren't going to need to be surgically separated soon. The Twins--were the Twins. Ron. She really didn't know what had gotten into him lately. Harry was already at Hogwarts...

Realization struck with painful clarity. Harry had only been given a couple of days to come to his decision, while she had five whole weeks, and he'd been as cut off with no one to sound off to. Harry had been right that the apprenticeship was a good opportunity for him. It offered him a chance to learn much more of what he needed, specifically what he needed, rather than a basic general curriculum....

How furious Harry had gotten when told she was sure Dumbledore knew best last term. It wasn't quite the same when it was her life Dumbledore was manipulating. First stuck here in this blasted place, then admitting--more or less--he had been the one to prevent a good number of opportunities simply because he bloody thought it best? How dare he...

Teaching program? What the devil did that entail? The mad old man said nothing to that. Just that this is what you're going to get, accept blindly or to hell with you, is what it seemed to amount to in Hermione's outraged opinion. Here are a few new books for you, isn't that nice, you'll be happy with the books and not fuss too much. How did he have the gall to even imagine he had the right to ... treat her just like he had Harry for years.

Cornelius Fudge stormed from the chamber. The Wizengamot had just finished the proceedings judging the legality of the mandate that Mastery Apprentices had to brew the Lineage Potion.

Dumbledore had fast-talked them out of making an Heir-Designation mandatory. After all, the Ministry had no place in the deciding of family heirs--unless there was a contestation brought before the Wizengamot. After all, what did they propose to do if there was not an heir--mandate marriage and procreation?

Dumbledore at least hadn't gotten out of the new requirements for staff. He wouldn't be able to hire anyone for at least five or six years. Most of Hogwarts' staff were aging; Fudge had to smirk, Dumbledore wasn't going to get out of Ministry appointed teaching staff that easily. While the Wizengamot was a bit disturbed by the Quibbler's article, that was all unproven and the Quibbler's integrity was easily cast in a doubtful light.

Dumbledore had also allowed a werewolf teach at one point, after all. The Wizengamot had to rule that a teaching accreditation for all future hires was necessary. And if any current staff retired before there were accredited candidates for replacement, then the Ministry would appoint the new professor, with the school board having a veto if there were alternatives until such a time there were accredited professors to take the job.


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